Best of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson


Don Rickles, who passed away earlier today at the age of 90 , was the ultimate insult comic. This clip, from , is a perfect place to start in understanding the relationship between Rickles and Carson.

While Carson's show was primarily a talk show, with performances by guests, periodically Carson and a group of stock performers would perform skits that spoofed news, movies, television shows, commercials, and past events. A Mighty Carson Art Players appearance would usually be announced along with that night's guests during McMahon's introduction.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is an American talk...

Johnny, dressed as a doctor, starting to talk about some intimate topic just as in the real ad and then being hit by cream pies from several directions at once. This carried over when Leno became permanent host in Carson would set up the joke with a passing comment about, for instance, the weather with the phrase "It was so hot Carson would occasionally throw the audience off with an anti-joke such as "it was worth the trip in, wasn't it?

Jack Paar 's last appearance was on March 29, , and due to Carson's previous contracts, Carson did not take over until October 1. The two openings gave affiliates the option of screening either a fifteen-minute or thirty-minute local newscast preceding Carson. Since , the show had been videotaped earlier the same broadcast day. As more affiliates introduced thirty minutes of local news, Carson's monologue was being seen by fewer people. To rectify this situation, Ed McMahon and Skitch Henderson co-hosted the first fifteen minutes of the show between February and December without Carson, who then took over at Finally, because he wanted the show to start when he came on, at the beginning of January Carson insisted the January — September Saturday or Sunday In order to work fewer days each week, Carson began to petition network executives in that reruns on the weekends be discontinued, in favor of showing them on one or more nights during the week.

In , Carson renewed his contract with the stipulation that the show lose its last half-hour. On the last minute show September 12, , Carson explained that by going to an hour, the show would feel more fast-paced, and have a greater selection of guests. For a year, Tom Snyder 's existing talk show, Tomorrow , was expanded to 90 minutes and forced to change its format, adding gossip reporter Rona Barrett as a co-host and taking on the name Tomorrow Coast to Coast.

This was short-lived as a year and a half later, Snyder had quit and Tomorrow Coast to Coast had been canceled. Carson was given authority to fill the vacant time slot and used it to create Late Night with David Letterman — September 15, — August 30, September 2, — May 22, In an onscreen eulogy to Carson in , David Letterman said that every talk show host owes his livelihood to Johnny Carson during his Tonight Show run. Carson cited a California law barring certain contracts from lasting more than seven years.

NBC claimed that it had signed three agreements since then and Carson was bound to the network until April Carson's first show with Groucho, Carson practices pitching at Yankee Stadium, Tiny Tim's wedding, Carson does a skydiving demonstration, Only 33 complete episodes of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show that had originally aired prior to May 1, are known to exist.

Carson himself encouraged the erasure of his archives, once humorously quipping that NBC should "make guitar picks" out of them, and did not believe they were of any value. New York meteorologist Dr. The program archive is virtually complete from to One of his first jokes upon starting the show after receiving a few words of encouragement from Marx, one of which was, "Don't go to Hollywood!

Many s-era episodes have been licensed to distributors that advertise mail-order offers on late-night TV. Most musical guest segments are also removed. Antenna TV began airing the show seven days a week beginning January 1, Currently, sixty-minute episodes from September May air Monday through Friday nights, and ninety-minute episodes from September 12, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Steve Allen also utilized guest hosts, including Carson and Ernie Kovacs , particularly after he began hosting The Steve Allen Show in prime time in and needed to reduce his workload on Tonight.

Many guest hosts were already large names in their own right, among them Frank Sinatra , Burt Reynolds and Don Rickles. The following is a list of those who guest-hosted at least fifty times during the first 21 years of the show's run:

Johnny Carson hosted
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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 25th Anniversary Special

While Carson's show was primarily a talk show, with performances by guests, periodically Carson and a group of stock performers would perform skits that spoofed news, movies, television shows, commercials, and past events.

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